Heather: Our new life in Ohhhh-man!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Oman, etc.
My name is Heather I am an Expat wife living in Muscat, the Capital city of Oman. I moved from Aberdeen, UK to Oman 8 weeks ago with my husband and our dog, Penny. At 24 years old I am a lot younger than most Expat wives living here.
My husband had been working in Muscat for a year already on a rotation basis and was then offered a permanent position with 8 only weeks’ notice to pack up, get married and get ourselves out there. We accepted the position immediately in the hope that this would give us the opportunity for a better life together.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Blogging wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind whilst living my old life, I didn’t really have anything to blog about back then. A new friend of mine in Oman showed me her own blog and I was inspired to start my own!
Initially I began my blogging to update friends & family back home of our adventures without us having to tell the same stories over and over again. Previous to this I had received very negative reactions from loved ones regarding our move so I hoped that they might be interested and read the blog to see that we are safe and enjoying our new life together
Unfortunately my main intention was a little wasted on the people from back home but something good has come out of the situation and people from around the globe are now noticing the blog online and contacting me to tell me how much they enjoy reading it – and I enjoy writing it! The blog has turned into a kind of therapy for me, I’m not so much writing to the people in my past, I am writing it with the future in mind and how good things are to be dwelling on the negative.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favourite blog was my entry about the Red Bull World Cliff Diving championships. The thought of watching people jump into a pool of water didn’t fill me full of joy but I had such a fantastic day, it has taught me to be more open to new experiences.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Oman differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
My experience of culture shock wasn’t immediate as I had already visited Oman twice in the past year for vacation, I tried to fool myself into thinking that living here was just one long vacation but eventually it catches up with you.
The things that annoy most people, like the men staring and the crazy traffic, amused me but the main thing that I have struggled with is feeling like I have lost my independence. I have never been a “stay at home wife” before so that has taken a lot of adjustment! Yes the sun is shining and we have a lovely house but when the reality and realization of the massive change in life catches up with you it can leave you feeling isolated and sad.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Oman? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
In terms of cultural knowledge and what I had packed in my two suitcases then yes I was prepared. But you never really know what it is going to be like until you’re there. Even though you have some bad days everything is an adventure and I’m glad we made the move.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
On arrival at the visa desk in Muscat airport an Omani Immigration officer decided to quiz me on my Arabic skills so I muddled through my very basic phrases but he kept saying “more..”, I was running out of words and then next one fell out of my mouth before I could stop it. I thought I was being clever with “ehh…Schwarma” but as soon as everyone exploded with laughter I realized this was wrong thing to say. Schwarma is a Turkish kebab! Luckily they found it amusing but he made me promise that I would learn Arabic before finally letting me through to the arrivals hall. Even now I can only say a few words but I am making the effort to learn something new every week.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Oman?
- Remember that it is a Muslim country! Do your research into what is appropriate to wear and their local customs, you should avoid insulting people if you are planning on staying here. If you respect the people, their culture and their country then they are so much more hospitable towards you.
- Join some Expat websites, such as InterNations, you can set the groundwork for friendships and social events before you even arrive. It helps you to stay busy and speak to people in similar situations. I have met some great people through the InterNations website.
- Be open to new experiences, cultures and friendships. I have been pleasantly surprised and inspired by some of my experiences here, some of which I would never have experienced if I was still in the mindset of the old me.
How is the expat community in Oman? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The Expat community can be great if you go out and seek it, remember that people are not going to come to you. I have met some amazing people so far and it is nice that we all have at least the fact we are Expats in common. You are not going to like everyone that you ever meet in life and Muscat is the same, there are some idiots here but on the other hand there are a lot of wonderful and interesting people you just have to get out and find them.
How would you summarize your expat life in Oman in a single, catchy sentence?
Shake off the inhibitions and put yourself out there, you never know who or what you will find.